Any Levinson 390s Level Players, But At Less Cost?

I'm looking to upgrade my CD player. I'm told the Mark Levinson 390s is the one to own. Granted this is a good player, but the price is more than I want to spend. They are available used in the mid-$4K range here on the Gon.

All I need is a good solid upsampling redbook CD player. I believe the Levinson 390s has a built-in preamp (?). My system includes a Classe CA-401 amp, Krell HTS 7.1 Pre-Pro, Piega P10 speakers and Analysis Plus Silver Oval cabling. Any and all recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
ML 39.
Ajahu: What are the differences between the ML 39 and 390s?
As good as the Levinson is, I have another recommendation as long as you don't need the preamp function of the 390s.

There's an Exemplar 2900 player with the full mods including Siltech wiring for sale right now on Audiogon for less than $2,000.

I own one of these, and it's the best player I've had in my system- period. Better than the Sony SCD-1, better than I experienced using a ML 360S Dac. Btter than the Resolution Audio Opus 21 I owned- another damn fine player.

I would suggest looking into the Exemplar.
Try a Linn Ikemi!

Good Luck!
Unfortunately, i dont know. Technically yes, but soundwise not. But ML 39 is very good. It has a very natural way of music making. At least in my set-up. I yet to hear better in its price-backet. I doubt you really could buy better cd-player-preamp in one box for less than 3000 usd. Maybe the APL modified denon or philips, but I dont know those models neither.
The ML 390s was nice w/ the built-in digital preamp, but I agree it was too expensive. Have you looked at the AR CD3?
I owned a 39 for 1 year, then upgraded it to 39S (at a $1500 cost), then listened to it for another 2 yrs before only recetly moving on to the Audio Aero.

First of all, the 390S is much better than the 39. It upsamples, has a new board that shares some of the topology in the preamp section of the 32 reference. So no surprise I heard an immediate difference. Deeper soundstage (39 was wide but not that deep), smoother more natural timbre, weightier beefer notes that had more internal resonance and decay, tighter bass - all around better. Not even close.

Anyway, i ran this without a preamp for a couple of years as finances did not allow. It sounds pretty damn good really. Transparent and open. pretty smooth. You'd be no slouch having it serve as a cdp and preamp. Ultimately, i did prefer thesound with a preamp, though. In fact, I have now owned 3 different CDP's with built-on preamps (Wadia 850, ML 390S, and now the Audio Aerro Capiole II, SE) and ALL three sound better with a good preamp.

It boils down to priorities and strategy. I say get the reference CDP, and live sans preamp for a while, then when $ aallows, try preamps (preferrable tubed). This is strategically more sound for the long term, vs getting a lesser CDP and pairing it with a so-so preamp. In that case, you'd always have 2 things to address in the future, and not really being sure which was the 'weaker link", dig?

I enjoyed my ML 390S quite a bit. It's a bit underratd these days, but te things sounded really good. honestly.
In case you haven't seen it, here's a thread that addresses the difference between the 390s and the 39, from back in 2002.
To correct a misstatement in this thread....the 390S has ANALOG volume control, not digital. Having had the Wadia 270/27ix combo and now happily listening to a 390S I can tell you that I will not have digital attenuation in my system again.


Paul :-)